Dating (With Children Out of Wedlock)

Is it sinful or reprehensible to date a partner who has had a child out of wedlock (and is not Catholic)?

No. It does not matter if they are catholic or not.

No, it isn’t…but I urge you to be prudent. Is this person’s child overly attached to you? If so, you could break this child’s heart if things don’t work out with the parent. Dating a person with a family means that if you get serious, you will need to accept the child as part of the deal. Are you willing to raise this child as your own? My husband had a child from a previous marriage and I had 3 of my own. I didn’t let my children get to know him until I was sure that his faith and morals were compatible with mine. He did the same with his daughter. There were many times I wondered if it could possibly work or if my kids would accept him as a dad. If I didn’t trust him or he trust me with the kids, we would never have gotten married. Hopefully, your partner is open to learning about your faith and is willing to allow the child to do the same. It was a big decision for my husband to let his daughter go through First Eucharist at our parish since she is primarily being raised by her mom who bounces from (Protestant) church to church depending on what committee she can be on…not by what she believes in. In the end, the child asked if she could attend Sunday school at our parish and go through the sacraments there since she loves our parish. We are still wondering about what will happen when it is time for Confirmation.

No, but the best advice about this has been given by Dr. Laura many times. A single parent who has minor children has no business dating until their children are grown. Her prudent advice reflects many family issues surrounding the broken family and in my experience with dealing with various marriage issues and children issues I cannot say that she is wrong in her opinion.

It is not our business to decide that those who are widowed, who had a child out of wedlock, or whose first marriage was invalid have no vocation to marriage. The Church does not teach that. We should not put additional restrictions on people. Dr. Laura’s advice guarantees that no son of a widow or whose parents had their marriages annulled will have a father in his home while growing up. Every girl left by her mother will have her father alone to raise her. It would be better to call for prudence than to ban the person from dating outright.

I would not think it so bad if everyone dated as if they were under surveillance by small children, but those who actually are need to take that especially into account. A single parent needs to date a bit more as if it were 1890 than 2006…in other words, not only chaste in truth, but thoroughly chaste in appearance, too.

As to the issue of difference in religion, the problem is thornier. If you were to marry, you would be open to children and raise your own children Catholic, would you not? If you marry a non-Catholic with a child, then you will not only have the challenge of raising your child Catholic in a home where one parent who does not practice, but the addition of an older sibling who does not practice. You would not want to try to make “well, honey, Lisa is her child, and you are mine” fly with a six-year-old who wants to know why you and she have to go to Mass while everybody else gets to stay home. That little Lisa had better be yours, too, and as all yours as if she were yours by blood.

In other words, you marry the child, too, and not just the mother or the father, and you choose not just a spouse, but a stepparent for the child.

Having said all that, I can imagine feeling called to that family. It could happen without it being sinful. But the person does need to keep their priorities straight, and be honest about what the prospects are.

You are correct in that the Church does not teach on my suggestion. However, the advice is good. While I don’t want to impugn the integrity of the OP the advice is given because much child abuse happens because of boy-friends coming into the life of a single mother. Also a parent that is actively engaged in dating while raising children imposes a lack of stability int he lives of the children. In the work of Dr. Laura (which is well documented) the psychological effects on children who have a parent dating while they are being raised is generally more negative than positive even if one of the relationships turns into a new marriage.

The reason why the Church does not speak on this specifically is because She is not in the business of family science and the like. However, I would suggest that a person as credible as Dr. Laura can be cited as an expert on this issue and her advice on this point is not only timely but prudent.

To advise extreme caution and the need to choose not only a spouse but a stepparent is different than the advice to refrain from remarriage out-of-hand. That is too far. One might as well just remember St. Paul’s advice, which was that nobody should marry if they aren’t on fire, and give up the whole idea of dating altogether. There are lots of good reasons for that, too, don’t you think? I think if Dr. Laura suggested it, she’d lose a few ratings points.

Should a single parent do some careful discernment before they date anyone? Absolutely. Should they resolve to rebuff every potential suitor until their children are fully grown? Excuse me, but I think that is foolish. They may have a vocation to marriage, and they should be willing to listen to God on that possibility.

Remember, too, that the OP asked if it was a sin to date someone who had an out-of-wedlock child, not whether it was a sin for a single parent to date. Presumably, that person would know that they were not destined to become a future abusing boyfriend preying on the needs of a lonely single parent.

We forget that there was a time when the premature death of a spouse was practically the norm. It isn’t remarriage that is the problem. It is how we currently go about selecting spouses, and that is as true for those who have never been parents as for those who are.

Of course, I may be partial. My grandmother’s mother died when Grandma was four. Her dad remarried and had five more children, one of whom grew up to join the convent. But I still think that those who may have the vocation to marry should be open to the possibility, even though it has hazards.

I wonder how St. Thomas More felt about remarrying while raising children. Oh, that’s right… he did it (though of course his childeren were not conceived out of wedlock).

To say it is a sin to marry someone who had a child out of wedlock is to say that it is a sin to marry someone who had fornicated, and that clearly is not true. The fact that the woman got pregnant is not relevant.

It is a matter of prudence. Does the person recognize that they sinned? Do they share the same values as you do? Is there solid reason to believe that he/she will be faithful to you? Will there be a lot of conflict with the child’s other biological parent? Are you willing to commit yourself to the child as completely as if he/she were your own?

There are certainly complications, as compared to the ideal situation of two virgins getting married. But that doesn’t make it sinful.

The main thing to remember is that while a single parent may have a vocation to marriage, it is certain that they have a vocation to be a parent to their children. That is their primary responsibility until the child is grown.

Also, if a single parent does remarry, he or she makes the selection of a spouse, but the child has no say in the matter, yet is intimately affected, so you have to be very careful about who you bring into your child’s life.

As others have stated, there is nothing sinful about dating someone who has a child conceived in or out of wedlock. Why on earth would there be?

But beyond that, I would strongly encourage you not to date or marry someone who is not a serious Catholic. That particular mistake is a large part of why I am a single parent. You have a responsibility not just to yourself and the other person, but to that person’s child and your future children. Marrying outside the Faith would inevitably bring some level of pain and confusion to you, your spouse, and your offspring. Why put everybody through that when there are so many fish in the sea? :confused:

Valiant Domain,

While it is not sinful, it may not be overly wise either. Is this a serious dating with an eye to eventual marriage, or is it simply an enjoyment of activities that both are interested in? It makes a major difference.

  • Liberian

Where did I assert that to do so was a sin? Rather, I just passed on professional advice that was “extra-moral” that I felt was timely. None here have stated that it would be a sin. I just happen to think that it is imprudent. And, St. Thomas More was the master of doing imprudent things so he is not a good example in this instance anyway.

Part of Dr. Laura’a radio “persona” is doling out opinionated advice in the form of shockingly unkind blanket statements. These shocking statements often have grains of truth but just as often they don’t hold up to scrutiny. I am sure there are more Christ-like experts on the subject somewhere out there.

Obviously you chose to quote Dr. Laura for a reason. So what are your reasons why a person who is free to marry in the Catholic church (but has a child) should not court or be courted?

Let’s make it a step more personal. I was in an invalid marriage. My ex-husband was a disturbed, abusive man. He now lives in another country and is barred by multiple court orders from ever having any contact with my son or with me. My son is one year old. I am now free to marry in the Church. According to you, why should I decline the courtship of a chaste, kind, Catholic man with good and moral intentions? Why is it preferable for my son to grow up fatherless? :confused:

not at all…

and to those posters out there bashing single parent gals…and saying they should not date till their kids are out of the house…what about single dads do you dole out the same "punishment"to them?

When I met my wife, she had a small baby. We did not seriously date until he was a few years old, but I was the only father he ever knew, calling me Dadyd longl before we tied the knot. Although she proved to be unstable and abandoned our home, my (step)son still calls me Daddy when he calls.
Advice: exercise caution. A Catholic family has a better chance of “making it”, but there are no guarantees. As for the child, remember, St. Martín de Porres was born of an unwed mother.

A family where God is the center has a better chance of making it. Being Catholic is a plus.

I choose to quote Dr. Laura because she is right on more levels than you may realize. I don’t think that your characterization of her persona is correct. Rather, I think that it is what people need to hear and presented in the way they need to hear it. It just seems unkind because people don’t understand what is kind and unkind anymore. It is usually equated with what is offensive to a person and what isn’t. With the hyper-sensitivity and selfishness of today people need a little more tough love and she is a great source not only because she is a tried and tested expert but is also generally a very moral person.

On your point. As a child who came from a divorced home and who both parents eventually remarried I can only give you my experience on the issue because I am not an expert (like Dr. Laura). Quickly the background to me is that I am the oldest and my brother and I were commented upon by our teachers as not being characteristic of children from divorced parents. But I can tell you this about the situation.

First, the instability of a dating parent is huge. While it is not the intention of the parent it tells the child that this other person is more important than them. Why? This is because the time a parent should be spending with their child they are out of hand. Also, the early stages of romance causes the couple to focus highly on each other. Again this takes away from the needs of the Child. Also, if the parents experience of dating is a revolving door it leads to further instability in the child’s life. Also, this opens the door to the abuse of the children by a little known person who now will have a lot of access to the child (this is another highly documented aspect that many abuses of children are boyfriends of single mothers).

With the 5000 word limit I cannot begin to tell you my thoughts on this topic. But I can tell you this. While I love my younger brother and sister who are from a different father than I and my other brother I can say that it would have been better for us if my mother had never remarried. Even in a less volatile climate which was at my fathers house where the dynamic was a little different because there were two kids from his wifes first marriage but more stable it was still very problematic and I still cannot say that I have the type of relationship with my father, his wife and her kids because of it. Again, it would have been better for us if our father had not entered into another relationship.

Once there are children it cannot be about the parents anymore but what is best for the child. While some will say that having two parents is better than one I can attest in my own life that this is not always the case. After my mothers second divorce it has been much better for my younger brother and sister - especially after she stopped dating. I cite Dr. Laura because in all her family counseling experience she has seen the exact same thing and so I can say that her advice is not only proper but timely.

I see this thread hasn’t been posted in quite a while, but as the subject interests me I believe that I may as well comment. I believe on the whole there is a consensus that at least in regard to children there should be no hindrance to marriage. The main antagonist appears to have had a bad experience with step-parents. To me in this day and age specifically in American society there appears to be a strong need for independence, a desire to go it alone. I think especially with child raising it is important to remember that our Creator did not create humans to be uni-sexed. Men and women both have important roles to play in the development of children regardless of whose lineage they actually are. A good family is something a single parent should always strive for and that means children having a mother and a father. How two people react in regards to each other when considering children is always going to be a challenge possibly even more so if they are married as they now have a duty to each other. To try and solve that problem by staying single encourages a belief in the single parent family concept by the child/children and that I do not believe should be encouraged.

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